‘People have weapons, but it’s to celebrate!’ Jantra, the Sudanese keyboardist making wild party music

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In his first ever interview from wartorn Sudan, Jantra explains how he hacked hardware to create melodies that send dancers into a rapturous frenzy

The name of Sudanese keyboard player Jantra translates as “crazy”, and sure enough, his gigs are wild. “Sometimes a fight will happen and I have to take a break so everyone can calm down,” he says. “The crowd goes crazy but I take pride that the energy the music creates lets people have such a good time.”

During slightly less energised passages, people swarm around him, filming his incredibly animated and agile fingers gliding across his Yamaha keys. It was through one such YouTube video that Vik Sohonie – a crate-digging obsessive born in India and now living in New York and Bangkok – came across Jantra and set about tracking him down to record him for his label, Ostinato Records. The result is one of the best releases of the year. However, given the civil war that has been raging since April in Sudan, which has left key services such as the post non-functional, Jantra doesn’t even own a copy.

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